Free Puerto Rico!
Free Puerto Rican Political Prisoners/POWs!
Message from the Revolutionary Communist Party,USA
on the 100th Anniversary of the U.S. Invasion
Revolutionary Worker #967, July 26, 1998
We revolutionaries in the RCP,USA send our warm greetings to all those marching on July 25. We stand with you in denouncing 100 years of U.S. domination over Puerto Rico. And we join you in demanding freedom for all the Puerto Rican political prisoners and prisoners of war held in U.S. prisons.
And it is heartening that the same month as these July 25 marches, the two-day general strike of working people in Puerto Rico delivered a powerful statement against the privatization of the Puerto Rican telephone company. This is an unmistakable sign that Puerto Rican people are determined to oppose the domination of their nation by U.S. corporate capitalism.
100 Years of Colonialism--
100 Years of Resistance
The U.S. imperialists landed on Puerto Rico with guns, while they justified their conquest with lies. And at every step, the Puerto Rican people have repeatedly given rise to fighters and leaders who waged heroic resistance against this powerful invader.
In 1898, as U.S. troops fanned out across the island, the new conquerors claimed they were bringing "protection" and "liberal institutions" to the Puerto Rican people. Instead they built a colonial system based on military occupation, corporate exploitation and directives from Washington DC.
The island of Puerto Rico has been used as a staging area for U.S. military threats and invasions against people throughout the Caribbean region. Meanwhile, for 100 years, the life of Puerto Rico has been crudely dominated by the needs of U.S. capitalists. Puerto Rico's small farmers were press-ganged as cane cutters for U.S.-owned plantations. Then the people were swept out of the countryside into sweatshop factories--again to enrich owners from the North.
An island of rich farmland produces little food for its own people. An island of hardworking people lives with the waste of massive unemployment--since jobs are only available when they make some capitalist richer. The people of Puerto Rico today earn only one-third of the average income in the U.S.--while billions in profits and products flow out to enrich the U.S. corporate masters.
Literally millions of Puerto Rican people have had to leave their homes for the barrios of New York and Chicago. They have often been assigned the dirtiest and hardest jobs, and received the lowest pay and worst conditions--taking their place at the bottom of U.S. society alongside Black people and immigrants from many other countries.
The system has ruthlessly targeted the people and their culture--infiltrating the island with FBI and CIA agents, arresting independence fighters by the hundreds, sometimes by the thousands. The colonialist disdain for the people has even taken a coldly genocidal edge--as in the decades of La Operación when the system routinely sterilized over a third of Puerto Rican women of child-bearing age.
These are the bitter workings of colonialism--of imperialism. And this situation has never been been accepted by the people of Puerto Rico.
We remember well the proud youth in Ponce 1937, who stood their ground fearlessly as colonial police opened fire with submachine guns. We still draw inspiration from the passionate stand of the Puerto Rican independence leader Pedro Albizu Campos--whose very life was a manifesto of uncompromising struggle for independence. We keep alive the memory of Jayuya 1950, where fighters for Puerto Rican independence dared to rise up, with arms in hand, to defy the U.S. at its peak of world power.
And we cannot rest as long as U.S. prisons continue to hold Puerto Rican political prisoners and prisoners of war--whose only crime was risking everything to free their people.
No Future Without Liberation
The imperialists claim today that Puerto Rico now rules itself--in "voluntary association" with the United States. They claim that deepened integration with the U.S. is the island's only hope for prosperity. They stage plebiscites and elections--and then announce that the dreams of independence have faded in the hearts of Puerto Rico's people.
But we know none of this is true!
All the "status options" the U.S. "offers" in their staged plebiscites--statehood, commonwealth or phony "independence"--represent a continuation of the U.S. domination of Puerto Rico. No matter what new arrangements the U.S. imposes on the people of Puerto Rico, a future under U.S. imperialism will be filled with continued exploitation, the ongoing destruction of Puerto Rico's land and waters, and systematic assault on the people's language and culture.
The people of Puerto Rico can never solve the problems that face them without forcing U.S. military bases off their island and breaking the grip of U.S. corporations over their lands and industry.
Bob Avakian, Chairman of the RCP, has written: "Self-determination is absolutely at the heart of the struggle of the Puerto Rican nation. Only through `wresting control' of the territory of Puerto Rico can the people of that nation win liberation, and only after that is done can they begin to build socialism there."
Fighting Thru to Victory
The great revolutionary Mao Tsetung once described U.S. imperialism as a paper tiger. This remains deeply true.
For 100 years, the Puerto Rican people have repeatedly demonstrated their powerful potential to liberate themselves--and they are not alone in their struggle! The Puerto Rican liberation movement has allies and comrades all over the world--including in the U.S. itself--who share the dream of defeating imperialism and building new relations between nations based on genuine equality and liberation.
In Peru and Nepal, Maoist parties, who are part of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, are leading guerrilla fighters and the masses on the path of people's war. And in the Philippines, revolutionary people are holding their own commemorations of 100 years' resistance to U.S. imperialism--including in guerrilla bases they have created through armed struggle.
The U.S. itself is a class society that daily creates its own gravediggers. Just look around at the terrible conditions of proletarian people in New York and Washington, DC where these July 25 marches are taking place!
While it oppresses nations all over the world, U.S. imperialism also oppresses many nationalities within its borders--including Black people, Chicano people, and Native peoples. Immigrant workers, including many Puerto Ricans, have come to the U.S. from all over the world. We say, "Come on in. Lend your strength and consciousness to the struggle. Let us destroy this inhuman system together!"
The people of Puerto Rico are sisters and brothers to all the oppressed and proletarian people within the U.S. We share common interests and face a common enemy.
The political programme of the RCP,USA says: "The socialist state which comes to power on the ashes of U.S. imperialism will immediately cancel all unequal treaties and end all colonial relationships, direct or indirect, with other nations. It will renounce all privileges extorted from other nations at the point of a gun by the imperialists. The U.S. colony of Puerto Rico will be immediately freed, that is, if the Puerto Rican people have not already won their freedom. And in that regard, if war--world war and/or civil war--is raging in the U.S., the Puerto Rican people should be supported by the proletariat in the U.S. to take advantage of that situation to break free and claim their own emancipation from U.S. imperialism."
The Revolutionary Communist Party,USA has pledged itself to make every sacrifice to overthrow U.S. imperialism here in the belly of the beast--and to construct a revolutionary society on the mainland of North America. As part of that struggle, we strongly uphold the liberation of Puerto Rico and work to build support for that cause among the oppressed and progressive people of the U.S. itself.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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